The importance of acquaintances and friends while traveling (and Tamer’s Birthday)

One of the things I enjoyed most about my time in NROTC and my short stint in the Navy is the plethora of strong and weak relationships you develop with your peers. The military has always emphasized camaraderie as one of its selling points and I have to say it is an effective one.

There’s something about traveling or living abroad that cultivates the same type of bonding conducive environment that the military does. Like the military, sometimes living abroad can be stressful. Like the military, you find yourself socializing with people that you probably would not have back home. Maybe its just the displacement of living abroad that causes one to grasp and embrace those people who have anything in common with you. For example, in Lexington, I would not just befriend anyone who lives in Lexington. But when I leave the town, even to somewhere relatively close by, say Washington, DC, I might gladly talk to someone because he has a friend in Lexington. I believe this effect is exponentially magnified the further the physical distance from wherever you consider your home.

When I arrived in Cairo, I was immediately initiated into a network of friends and acquaintances through Sarah (who I went to GW with) who introduced me to a mixed group of Egyptians and American expats living here. Having a pre-established group of friends is immensely beneficial. You go out together, you complain about traffic together, and you’ll find yourselves at Tamer’s birthday party together. At Tamer’s birthday party, I found myself talking to an Egyptian girl who is best friends with the fiancee of one of the guys I was at BUD/s with. This single point led to further conversation and now we’re officially friends on Facebook. It turns out that my social network will sometimes come full circle.

That same weekend, I went to go see The Hanging Church which is a Coptic church in Cairo that is not actually sitting on the ground (hence the hanging). The church has Coptic volunteers stationed there to give a free tour of the church. One girl offered to give us a tour, but the conversation soon turned to Malcom Gladwell’s book “Blink,” which she was reading and I had already read and enjoyed a few months ago. Gladwell focuses on the concept of “thin-slicing” which refers to the ability to make an accurate snap judgement of people and situations. I enjoyed the tour and the book club-esque discussion. Within 20 minutes I “thin-sliced” Marian and determined that I would like to continue hanging out with her. I unconsciously made this snap judgement. I have no idea whether or not a Malcom Gladwell book would have been a strong enough commonality to establish a relationship with her if I were back in Lexington. Maybe its strong enough in any place but Lexington.

As I am not a strong enough writer to have a though provoking concluding paragraph, I have decided to just post a few pictures from the week instead. Enjoy.

Coptic Grave

The Hanging Church

Tamer on a boat on the Nile

Koshari...delicious. Warning: will make you a master of binge eating.




3 responses to this post.

  1. Oh Dale, you could have easily found a concluding paragraph. You aren’t a weak writer.

    Also, that koshari looks absurdly delicious.


    • Yes actually that whole post was supposed to be an advertisement for koshari. Now you associate it with that warm fuzzy feeling of good relationships.


  2. Posted by Shenny on January 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I love this post!


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